Freeman Dyson: A Guiding Light

BigBoard8From: Freeman Dyson
Date: Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: 34 years later… Might it be useful to see the universe as 202.34 notations that are necessarily related through simple geometries all nested within each other?
To: Bruce Camber

Dear Bruce Camber,

Thank you for the invitation to comment. Without seeing your  scheme, it is hard to judge whether it would make sense. If I take your three questions literally, the answer is No to all three.

1.  Since space has three dimensions, the number of points goes up by a factor eight,* not two, when you double the scale.

2.  The universe we live in is not nested at all.   On the contrary, larger levels of structure are quite different from smaller levels. Larger levels bring qualitatively new structures. For example, a galaxy does not look like a big star, and a star does not look like a big planet, and a planet does not look like a big elephant, and an elephant does not look like a big bacterium, and a bacterium does not look like a big atom.

3.  I don’t know any recent work that would be important for your project. There are plenty of new pictures for you to choose from, both in the large and in the small, from galaxies to viruses.

Sorry I do not have any more useful ideas. I will be interested to see what comes out of your project.

Yours sincerely,

Freeman Dyson

* Editor’s note and reference:  We can extend this idea into three dimensions. The volume goes up by a factor of eight because the cube is twice as wide…

Here is the letter to which Prof. Dr. Freeman Dyson was responding:

On Fri, 19 Oct 2012, Bruce Camber wrote:

> Dear Prof. Dr. Dyson:
> Just over 34 years ago I contacted you regarding a special project at MIT called,
> “An architecture for integrative systems.” It was a display project in the main rotunda
>  just off Massachusetts Avenue. It borrowed Erwin Schrodinger’s title from his much
>  earlier work, a book entitled, “What is life?” Seventy-seven leading, living scholars
> participated and you were one of them. We are taking that old product and re-purposing
> it online within a very similar framework — Small Scale, Human Scale, Large Scale —
> however, we are using base-2 exponential notation from the Planck Length to the
> edges of the observable universe which gives us 202.34 ordered steps in which to context
> information.  By assuming nested geometries at each doubling, it seems that we
> will have an inherent structure for analogous or metaphorical connection-making.
> But before we go too far, I would like to re-engage you and ask for your advice:
> 1.  If the Planck Length is a dimensionful number representing a singularity
> or a point, can we multiply it by 2 and assume two points? …multiply it again
> and assume 4, then 8, 16, 32 and on up to 1024 by the 10th doubling?
> 2.  Can we assume nested geometries throughout?
> 3.  We will use the same infrastructure as used by Wikipedia to build it out, so
> owner’s of information can readily edit and update content. Is there any particular
> recent work to which you would want us to take note?
> Thank you.
> Warmly,
> Bruce

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